New Years’ Resolutions are still on our minds and a common resolution is to be healthier. At times it feels like managing our health is a numbers game: watching our weight, counting calories, tracking exercise regimens. Below are five numbers you would benefit from knowing and stabilizing.
Blood pressure. Goal is less than 120/80. What is it? It measures the pressure of blood flowing through your arteries. The higher the number the increased risk of damaging blood vessels which reduces the blood flow to the target organ. Why it’s important? High blood pressure often does not cause pain. When untreated, over time, it decreases the blood flow to the brain which can cause dementia, to the heart which can cause heart failure, to the kidneys which can cause kidney failure.
Fasting blood sugar. Goal is under 100 mg/dL. What is it? It measures the amount of sugar in the blood. Why it’s important? This is a test which screens for diabetes.
BMI. Goal is under 25. What is it? Body mass index is a formula that divides your “mass” (in kilograms) by height (in meters squared). It determines if your weight is appropriate for your size. Why it’s important? Overweight or obese people are at much higher risks for health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, arthritis and heart disease. A BMI under 18.5 may signal an eating disorder.
Waist size. Goal is less than 35 inches in women, less than 40 inches in men. What is it? The measurement around your belly (above your hipbone and below your ribcage). Why it’s important? Large waistlines signs that there may be too much abdominal fat which increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary vascular disease.
Total cholesterol. Goal is under 200 mg/dL. What is it? The number is a combination of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), high-density lipoproteins (HDL), and other fats in your blood. Why it’s important? If there’s too much cholesterol in the blood, it keeps circulating and can eventually enter the blood vessel walls causing a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries. This “atherosclerosis” can block blood flow (think heart attack and stroke as blood doesn’t get to the heart and brain).
Get to know YOUR numbers.